There are two types of NHL free agents. They are UFAs and RFAs. UFAs, or unrestricted free agents are available to any team, and any team can sign that player. RFAs, or restricted free agents are only only available to that players' team. But, another team can offer an offer sheet (which is a contract) to that player. If that player accepts, the player's team can either match the offer given by the opposing team, or let the player sign the other team's contract. As compensation, the player's original team is awarded a draft pick or picks, based on the salary offered from his new team. To be a UFA, you have to be at least 27 years old, or have played in at least seven NHL seasons.
There are 11 remaining RFAs in the NHL now, but three of them, Robbie Russo (Red Wings), Tyler Wotherspoon (Flames) and Petteri Lindbohm (Blues) won't be on this list simply because they aren't NHL starters and will get under $1 million. I will be predicting how much money each RFA (besides the three above) get. Also, I am writing this on September 5th, so if one of these players have signed when you are reading this, that is why.
David Pastrnak, RW, Boston Bruins
Pastrnak, also known as "pasta", broke out in 2016-17, with 34 goals and 36 assists for 70 points in 75 games. That's the most goals and points scored in a season by any of the remaining RFAs. Also, at 21 years of age, he's tied with Sam Bennett for the youngest guy on this list. It's pretty clear he will get the most money of anyone on the list. Pastrnak has had trade rumors swirling around him since NHL's Brian Lawton broke the news that him and the Bruins could not agree to a contract. But, I still predict that Pastrnak will get an eight year deal, worth $66 million. That's a cap hit of $8.25 million. This is just $2 million less than what Oilers star Leon Draisaitl got. TSN's Darren Dregor tweeted today that Pastrnak is comparing his deal to Draisaitl's, and playing with Connor McDavid, Draisaitl should score more points, so that's why I think he just gets the edge over Pastrnak.
Bo Horvat, C, Vancouver Canucks
Horvat led the Canucks in goals with 20 and points with 52 in 81 games last year. His 32 assists were second on the club behind Henrik Sedin. At just 22, Horvat has a bright future. Entering 2017-18, Horvat can be Vancouver's top center, though he'd be a number two center on most clubs. Although I can also see Horvat being traded if they can't work anything out, I predict he will get a six year contract worth $36 million. That is a cap hit and AAV of $6 million. That would be a solid contract for Horvat!
Damon Severson, D, New Jersey Devils
Last offseason, the Devils chose to trade Adam Larsson for Taylor Hall over Severson. Using him as a number one defenseman in 2016-17, Severson scored just three goals and 28 assists for 31 points, and finished as a -31. Severson is looking for a much better year in 2017-18. I think he can be moved down to the second pairing for his benefit. I predict the Devils go with a bridge deal, at three years for $12 million, and an AAV and cap hit of $4 million. That's so the 23 year old will still be an RFA when the deal expires, and if he is successful in the three years, they can give him the big money, and if not, either trade him or sign a small-term deal again.
Andreas Athanasiou, F, Detroit Red Wings
In his rookie season, the 23 year old Athanasiou (pronounced Ah-thin-uh-see-yu) scored 18 goals and 29 points in just 64 games. His blazing speed created some awesome highlights. But, the Wings have been unable to sign him this offseason. Athanasiou has threatened to go to the KHL, and Darren Dregor also tweeted today that he likely will. If Athanasiou changes his mind, I think he'll sign a 6 year, $24 million deal with a $4 million AAV. He only scored 29 points last year, so I wouldn't give him too much money, but you could up it to $27 million ($4.5 million AAV) to keep him in North America.
Josh Anderson, RW, Columbus Blue Jackets
In his rookie season, Anderson, also 23, also scored 29 points, but with 17 goals in 78 games. It seems likely Anderson will be signed by Columbus. But, he won't get as much money since he isn't threatening leaving. Also, Columbus has some other big contracts. They recently signed C Alex Wennberg to a six year deal. I think Anderson gets a bridge deal, at three years, $10.5 million ($3.5 million AAV). He could also get an extra year, since Columbus likes him. They gave up a first round pick to protect him and some teammates in the expansion draft.
Sam Bennett, C, Calgary Flames
Bennett has played like a third line center since being drafted fourth overall. In 81 games in 2016-17, Bennett scored just 13 goals and 26 points, and had just a 46.1 faceoff percentage. Bennett isn't going to get much money. I think gets something similar to the Coyotes' Anthony Duclair's one year, $1.6 million deal. I'm going to predict the 21 year old gets a one year, $2 million deal. If he breaks out, he'll get the big money.
Marcus Foligno, F, Minnesota Wild
After five seasons in Buffalo, Foligno was traded to the Wild earlier in the summer. He's the only player on this list over 23 years of age, at 26. Next time his contract expires, he'll be a UFA. He scored 13 goals and 23 points in 80 games for the Sabres last season. I predict Foligno will get a two year, $3 million deal ($1.5 million AAV). Unlike his brother Nick, Marcus is just a bottom six forward.
Nikita Zadorov, D, Colorado Avalanche
Zadorov is the last player on this list. He is also an ex Sabre, and was traded for C Ryan O'Reilly years ago. At 22, Zadorov scored just 10 points, all assists in 56 games last season. The Avalanche need defenseman, and Zadorov is young, so they would most likely want to sign him. I think he gets a four year, $16 million deal, with an AAV of $4 million.